University of Canterbury’s performance under pressure nets supreme PRINZ award

The University of Canterbury Futures communications team has reigned supreme in its campaign to reinvent itself after the 2011 Christchurch earthquakes, taking home the supreme honour at the 40th annual Public Relations Institute of New Zealand (PRINZ) Awards.

The awards, which were announced at the institute’s annual conference and gala dinner in Auckland last week, ​recognise excellence in New Zealand’s public relations and communications industry. And this year’s awards attracted 57 entries from around the country, with nine winners in eight categories eligible for the big one. 

The 2014 supreme award judges were particularly impressed with the University of Canterbury’s successful evolution and risk management throughout its transformation process, with thought leadership programmes, clever media engagement and an unprecedented level of engagement with the Canterbury community.

“This mission-critical campaign was developed and implemented during a period of ongoing stress and disruption for the University and the city of Christchurch. It was a strong, well-executed campaign whose immense challenges were clearly articulated in the entry,” says chief judge Anna Radford. “Over a two-year period between 2011 and 2013, the University successfully managed the delicate balance of gaining support for the University’s requirements, while at the same time maintaining stakeholders’ confidence in its ability to deliver high-quality tertiary education, and to be a valued contributor to the Canterbury region and beyond.”

Securing a multi-million dollar capital support commitment from the Government was key to the university’s ongoing viability and was the ultimate objective of the campaign. It culminated in November 2013 with John Key announcing a commitment of up to $260 million for a new science centre and upgrade of the university’s engineering facilities.

The UC Futures team, John MacDonald of Durning Public Relations, and the University of Canterbury’s Stacey Doornenbal and Jayne Austin, also won the sustained public relations category.

Category winners at the 2014 PRINZ Awards are:

Corporate Public Relations

Peter Parussini and the ANZ Corporate Affairs Team, ANZ. ‘Banking on the new ANZ – the post ANZ and The National Bank merger communications strategy and plan’.

Internal Communications winner

Amanda Schaake, for Fonterra, ‘Connecting employees to mission and purpose: Turning boring into bring it on!’

Limited Budget Public Relations winner

Suzanne McNamara, Convergence, ‘Splore’s sustainability message changes audience behaviour’.

Marketing Communication – Integrated

Ross Henderson, Kathryn Fitzpatrick, Karen Jones and Campbell Moore, NZ Police, ‘Safer Speed Summer’.

Marketing Communication – Public Relations

Joanna James, Natasha Gillooly and Strahan Wallis, Porter Novelli NZ, ‘Tui Plumbers go global’ (read about how that campaign played out here). 

Not for Profit Public Relations (joint winners)

Sharon Walls, Mercy Ships, ‘Mercy By Moonlight’. And Courtney Bennett, Telecom NZ; Lee Hales and Georgina Moselen-Sloog, Whitaker Group, Givealittle by the Telecom Foundation, ‘the Growth of Zero Fees Fundraising in NZ’.

Special event or project

Crystal Beavis, Strategic Lighting Partners Ltd, ‘Turning the spotlight onto LED road lighting: Road Lighting 2014, 11-12 March, Auckland’.

Sustained Public Relations

John MacDonald, Durning Public Relations; Stacey Doornenbal and Jayne Austin, University of Canterbury.

Paul Dryden Tertiary Award

Anna Johnstone, Caroline Leeming, Sureena Habib, Alexandra Harman and Nina Magan, AUT University, ‘Outside the Square, Auckland’s most noteworthy teacher.

Sally Logan-Milne Young Practitioner of the Year winner

Erin Roberts, McDonald’s Restaurants New Zealand Ltd

  • Check out the highly commended finalists here

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